Time Cover Story Wrongly Attacks Atheists for Not Helping Out Victims of Oklahoma Tornadoes

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The cover story in this week’s Time magazine, written by Joe Klein, is all about how volunteering and doing service projects may help curb the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on our veterans:

[Co-founder of volunteer group Team Rubicon] Jake Wood has little tolerance for veterans who see themselves as victims. Posttraumatic stress is, he believes, a condition that can be battled and defeated. “If you’re out doing disaster relief,” Wood says, “you’re less likely to be thinking about yourself and more likely to be thinking about the people you’re helping. You’re also presenting yourself, and other veterans, as a model, as a potential community leader.”

 


Okay. Sounds all well and good. The article goes on to note that doing these projects can help veterans in any number of ways, including providing them with “health and psychological benefits… greater longevity, reduced depression, and a greater sense of purpose.” All of that makes sense.

As part of his reporting, Klein joined one of the disaster relief groups and worked at a site damaged by the Oklahoma tornadoes… and that’s when he wrote this:

… there was an occupying army of relief workers, led by local first responders, exhausted but still humping it a week after the storm, church groups from all over the country — funny how you don’t see organized groups of secular humanists giving out hot meals — and there in the middle of it all, with a purposeful military swagger, were the volunteers from Team Rubicon.

Wow. My jaw dropped while reading that because it’s absolutely not true.

 

Written By: Hemant Mehta
continue to source article at patheos.com

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  1. In 2009 I answered an email request circulated in my workplace and volunteered to help with a home building project through Habitat for Humanity. I had no idea this was a christian organization until I showed up and realized each workday would start with a prayer to Jesus.
    I think a lot of people like me would prefer to join an atheist group to do volunteer work rather than labor to glorify religious groups, but there just aren’t that many NGOs formed with the idea of glorifying the secular humanist viewpoint. We don’t form congregations with weekly meetings to praise secular humanist ideas, either. I guess theology just isn’t as much a part of our identity as it is for the religious.

  2. As Ricky Gervais said on his twitter;

    “Rhianna and Beyonce are sending prayers to the Oklahoma victims. Now I feel like a right idiot – I’m only sending money”.

    Funny how things are put into perspective.

  3. Believers have two rationalisations for inaction that atheists would never use.

    1. God is punishing the victims with hurricanes, floods, plagues of locusts etc. Who am I to interfere?

    2. God is all powerful, all merciful. He will deal with it.

    A counter example is myself. In 1985 I sold everything I owned including a fully paid for 4 bedroom house to help out with the Ethiopian famine. That lead to hosting a telethon that raised $2 million. I have never heard of any Christian doing something comparable.

    • In reply to #5 by Roedy:

      FFS Roedy, this is why the article was posted and 5 posts in you’re making the same unthinking mistake.

      A counter example is myself. In 1985 I sold everything I…. That lead to hosting a telethon that raised $2 million. I have never heard of any Christian doing something comparable

      Yes of course, there are many many examples of christians who have given up everything to help others but even if there isn’t you just don’t fucking know so stop saying you know you’re better. As with Klein a tiny amount of effort to do the research would have prevented you making the mistake that we are talking about right now. The topic is gross confirmation bias and laziness not who’s better than who.

      Also, thanks for all your hard work back in ’85, although charities are one of my biggest peeves.

  4. Let’s make this very clear: Atheists were in Oklahoma doing everything Christian groups were doing — including handing out hot meals. To suggest that we were not there and not doing anything useful for the victims isn’t just factually wrong — it’s slander against all of us who don’t believe in a God.

    If Klein had mentioned any other group of people — “funny how you don’t see organized groups of Jews giving out hot meals” — you know there would be hell to pay. There should be an uproar now, too.

    That part pretty much nails what I was thinking when I saw this.

  5. In the wealthiest country on the planet, shouldn’t the secular government provide all the necessary help following natural disasters of this nature?

    And shouldn’t the government ensure that building regulations in these vulnerable areas require that all new buildings are constructed to withstand these violent storms?

    Or would all of that be too much “socialism” for the religious right to allow it to happen?

    • In reply to #8 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

      Next thing, they’d be marching the disaster victims into FEMA camps, making them drink fluoridated water and have vaccines. You can’t trust the gubbmint. Enormous tax-dodging, unaccountable, influence-purchasing corporations, however: no problemo. They make iPads and Facebook and stuff, y’know, freedoms.

  6. Loads of volunteers went to help victim’s pets and livestock, too.

    Did Klein bother to check each individual’s religion, or lack of? Keep it simple and truthful: various people helped in various ways, yay!!!

  7. I suppose it’s the normal research method for those infected with theist-brain-virus. “Faith-thinking” says those nasty godless atheists would not help others in distress. {It must be trooooo – some (ignorant) faith-thinking preacher said so! – What more evidence is needed}

  8. All I can say is this: Exodus 20:16: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
    I’m an atheist, but I’m still a better Christian than the Christians. Religious people use their beliefs as evidence of their own superiority when it suits them, and they ignore them, otherwise.

  9. Why do religious groups bother to help out at all in these situations. As they are usually so keen to remind us, this is God expressing his displeasure about [name state/country] legalising gay marriage, and God hates fags.

    Oh, sorry, not all the victims were gay? Well that’s collateral damage. Probably a lot of victims of Noah’s Flood did not deserve the death penalty without a fair trial either.

    As others have said, atheists tend not to form groups to help out. I didn’t see non-stamp collectors out in force in Oklahoma either. Shame on them.

  10. ” funny how you don’t see organized groups of secular humanists giving out hot meals — “

    This lie smacks of extinction desperation.

    Wonder what they do in Sweden and other nonreligious countries when disaster strikes? Send out for the god squad?

  11. Perhaps it was just that the non-religious were not jumping up and down shouting, “Look! We’re goody-goody [name religion] people helping with relief work, so we will take the credit for everybody’s efforts, and pretend we are the only ones who care!” (Why don’t you all donate to our proselytising organisation?)

  12. You should see the comment section on the TIME website and Klein’s personal site/blog. They are getting reamed out six ways to Sunday. Now we need to wait and see of TIME and the douchebag get the massage.

    • In reply to #18 by Negasta:

      You should see the comment section on the TIME website and Klein’s personal site/blog. They are getting reamed out six ways to Sunday. Now we need to wait and see of TIME and the douchebag get the massage.

      Saw that and the comments are coming faster than one can read them. Naturally, I joined in.

  13. funny how you don’t see organized groups of secular humanists giving out hot meals ..

    • Funny how some reporters only see what they want to see.

    • I thought the goverment relief agencies were secular.

  14. It’s important to realize that the organization that the Time article focuses on , The Mission Continues – makes no mention of God or religion on its website. Same with Team Rubicon – which describes itself as an NGO. This makes them secular organizations, no?

    Does Klein even know this? If so, why the implication is that they are Christian-based and therefore superior to “secular humanists?”

    If not, how can he represent himself as a serious journalist.

    Here are the five core values of “the Mission Continues:http://missioncontinues.org/about-us/our-core-values

    Work Hard
    Trust
    Learn & Grow
    Respect
    Have Fun

    Sounds pretty secular humanist to me!

    In contrast, the first of five principles in Habitat for Humanities mission statement http://www.habitat.org/how/mission_statement.aspx is:

    Demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ.
    We undertake our work to demonstrate the love and teachings of Jesus, acting in all ways in accord with the belief that God’s love and grace abound for all, and that we must be “hands and feet” of that love and grace in our world. We believe that, through faith, the miniscule can be multiplied to accomplish the magnificent, and that, in faith, respectful relationships can grow among all people.

  15. That’s total BS. I volunteered in Moore for three days. A friend of mine drove all the way from Colorado and volunteered for four days. We were working out of a local church on the edge of the destruction preparing and delivering meals to people who had lost their homes. One thing that I experienced that I didn’t really care for was some of the people I was volunteering with saw it as an opportunity to proselytize to the victims. I thought it was in bad taste but I bit my tongue and let it slide (something I sometimes don’t do) because I was just there to do a service and nothing more. I would like to meet the guy in the article and let him know what I think of his comments.

    Put in touch with the writer of that Time article and I won’t hold my tongue this time. I’ll cut his thesis out with a spoon.

    The preacher at the church I was volunteering out of said that God spared his church so that it could be used in the volunteer effort and made the tornado go to the south. To the south is where Plaza Towers Elementary is located. So basically what he’s saying is God chose to make the school hit a school full of kids rather than hit an empty church building.

  16. They didn’t know atheists were there, because we don’t need to advertise what we do to score brownie points (with God or anyone else), as we do what’s right simply because it’s the right thing to do. We abide by the tenets of Christianity far more than Christians do, actually.

    • In reply to #26 by LRFoto:

      They didn’t know atheists were there, because we don’t need to advertise what we do to score brownie points (with God or anyone else), as we do what’s right simply because it’s the right thing to do. We abide by the tenets of Christianity far more than Christians do, actually.

      I very much agree. We know, as Socrates knew, that virtue (doing what is right and good) is its own reward. Helping out is what people do in times of need. Religion is superfluous.

  17. I’ve been a Bright since childhood, since then and without encouragement I’ve raised money and awareness for many worthwhile humanitarian, wildlife, nature, community, charity, disaster relief and every other small way that one human can help another, sometimes I randomly give money to Homeless people on the street….We are all individuals with different abilities and means, but having a fair attitude toward each other without judgement for no better reason than the person needs your help is a far better way to spread human kindness – like International red cross helps more humans in need than religious organisations, but its only ever religions bleating about their pious kindness while the cameras are pointing, while non believers don’t need to reveal their involvement… its bad taste to donate then announce you’ve donated…that is donating for self credit and that’s the wrong reason….Shame on you religion for trying to shame kind and humble people

  18. My son spent all yesterday on callout helping residents affected by storm damage – flooding, toppled trees etc. He does this regularly as a volunteer with the State Emergency Services. My wife spent the entire previous day involved in a very successful fund-raiser conference for women’s refuge. Atheism or religion isn’t relevant to these kinds of activities. There are no flags or banners proclaiming ‘secular humanism’.

    If either of these voluntary community organisations ever focussed on the power of prayer then they’d be unlikely to attract much volunteer participation. Certainly not from effective and useful people. Even many among the religiously deluded, but otherwise reasonably effective people, would likely be concerned at the sanity and priorities of leaders in such groups.

    Religious motivation just isn’t relevant to this kind of community participation. Only the religiously deluded would consider otherwise, as an opportunity exploit these opportunities to proselytise. The rest of us just get on with it.

    I think it’s likely that religious connotations would be counter-productive and actually deter many people’s involvement in voluntary assistance.

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